Biography and History

The Office of General Counsel [as the Office of the University Counsel] was established in 1972 by President William G. Bowen. In the following decades, the Office of General Counsel continued much as Bowen had planned, providing counsel to officers and departments of the University requiring legal assistance, and serving as legal representative for the University in litigation, administrative matters, and transactions. In addition, the Office of General Counsel retains, oversees and provides liaison with outside law firms engaged on behalf of the University. Each of the General Counsel attorneys serves particular areas of practice relating to the University community. Such areas include affirmative action, benefits, construction, litigation, real estate and mortgages, and tax matters.

Prior to the establishment of the Office of the University Counsel, Princeton University’s legal matters were generally handled by outside law firms. Local firm Smith, Stratton and Wise worked with local real estate transactions and New Jersey law questions. The firm Jackson, Nash, Brophy, Barringer, and Brooks of New York City dealt with trust, estates, and restricted securities matters. Additional aid from other outside law firms were employed by the University for such matters regarding federal tax disputes, federal securities litigations, and complex real estate development planning, to name a few. From the 1950s to early 1970s, Princeton employed two “in-house” lawyers on the administrative staff as part of the Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA), Henry Sawyer Broad and Lawrence Robert Caruso. Broad, who was also employed by Smith, Stratton, served as legal counsel from 1956 to 1960. During 1958 and 1959, he served as legal counsel for the Committee on Project Research and Inventions, for which he provided legal assistance on Project Matterhorn, the controlled thermonuclear research effort undertaken at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Caruso served as Assistant to the Executive Officer for the Committee on Project Research and Inventions from 1957 to 1958, and as legal counsel from 1958 to 1971. From 1968 to 1971, he also served as Assistant Secretary of the University. As legal counsel, Caruso dealt with a wide variety of legal problems referred to him from all areas of the University including departmental offices, academic departments, and University-sponsored student organizations.

In 1972, President Bowen recruited Thomas H. Wright, Jr. '62 to be Princeton’s first University Counsel. In that capacity, Wright provided legal advice to the President and senior administrative staff, and managed the outside legal services that were used by the University. Wright’s main objective for this newly appointed position was to centralize the main legal issues regarding University affairs within his office and to use the outside law firms in connection to their particular expertise.

Over the course of several years, the Office of the University Counsel began to expand both administratively and functionally within the University. In 1974, Wright was appointed Secretary of the University following Jeremiah Finch’s retirement. With this appointment, the Office of the Secretary and the Office of the University Counsel merged under Wright’s leadership.

That same year, Howard S. Ende joined the Office of the University Counsel as Assistant University Counsel. As assistant, Ende reported to Wright and to administrative office heads, including the Director of Development and the Director to the Office of Research and Project Administration. Ende’s primary responsibilities included legal review of information made available to potential donors; securities issues; anti-fraud statute questions; and review of individual gift or bequest agreements. He lent his legal advice in connection with receipts of securities, including restricted securities, real estate, and various forms of giving. In addition, he reviewed proposed contracts for specific research projects such as the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and government and private industry contracts, purchasing systems, and specific University contract problems.

Ende also gave legal advice to the University regarding internal judicial procedures; federal guidelines for non-discriminatory practices; faculty and staff employment issues; federal, state, and local tax exemptions; and general financial management of securities and real estate.

In 1988, Thomas H. Wright was appointed Vice President of the University in addition to his positions as Secretary and University Counsel. Upon his appointment as Vice President, Wright requested Ende’s assistance to reorganize and consolidate the University’s legal office. In September 1989, the Office of Legal Services (OLS) was created with Ende serving as the Director and Senior University Counsel. The new office operated on its own budget and managed the University’s legal affairs.

In 1990, Thomas Wright resigned his position as University Counsel to serve as Vice President and Secretary of the University. On December 14, 1990, Howard Ende was appointed General Counsel, reporting directly to Wright. With Ende’s resignation as General Counsel in 2002, the Office of Legal Service’s name was changed to the Office of General Counsel. As of 2006, Ende's successor Peter McDonough serves as chief legal advisor of the Office of General Counsel. The Office continues to reside at 120 Alexander Street.

Source: From the finding aid for AC283

  • Office of General Counsel Records. 1865-2016 (inclusive), 1971-1997 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC283

    The Office of General Counsel, established in 1972, provides legal counsel to officers and departments of the University, and serves as legal representative for the University in litigation, administrative matters, and transactions. The records contain correspondence, memoranda, interview transcripts, administrative material relating to the Office of General Counsel and other departments, legal documents, grant and tax reports, legal briefs, affidavits, depositions, as well as litigation material involving estates, trusts, gifts, University employees, and various individuals and corporations.